Conen finds sea legs for a clipper trip

A COUNCIL worker who was afraid of the sea is to embark on a transatlantic voyage on the final leg of the Edinburgh clipper's race to the finish.

Conen Henderson-Dott, 23, answered a Jobcentre advert offering "adventure" last summer, and was offered a spot on the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital clipper in its round-the-world race.

However, Conen, who now works as a council environmental support worker, admits that prior to answering the ad he was "a bit apprehensive" about sailing the ocean.

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He said: "I'm giddy with excitement. I've had to wait the longest out of any of the applicants to join the boat because I was accepted last July, but I was selected to join the last leg so I've had to struggle to stop my excitement from bubbling over in the last eight to ten months.

"I didn't really like the sea before I joined this expedition. In fact, it made me apprehensive. I suppose like many people I found the sheer size of the oceans a bit daunting, but this has been replaced by a real excitement and drive to get out there."

"I've never sailed before. I've barely ever been abroad. I've only travelled to Europe – never as far as America or Canada."

Conen is set to fly out to Jamaica today, where he will rendezvous with the clipper, which is carrying the Edinburgh Evening News logo around the world, and relieve Will Barbour, 24, from Bruntsfield, who has sailed on the boat through the previous leg of the trip.

He will then sail to New York and Nova Scotia, and then embark on the transatlantic race to Cork, Ireland.

He said: "I've not really been told what to expect so I'll just have to take whatever the water throws at me. We've been given three survival courses to train us up on what to do if the boat is damaged, how to man the life rafts, and avoid silly mistakes."

Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is one of ten identical 68ft racing yachts which set off together in September for the 38,000 mile, ten-month-long global sea-faring adventure.

Earlier this month the entire fleet was battered by extreme weather on the San Francisco to Panama race, and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital suffered a huge tear in the mainsail.

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Conen said: "The race has seen a few incidents. Some of the boats have lost their masts, while others have rolled if they've been hit by high waves, but no one has been knocked overboard or anything.

"The Edinburgh clipper has had a tough race, so we're not in contention for a podium finish. However, there are still five races to go – out of 15 – and each race in itself is a competition so I'll be pushing to win in all of them, even if we don't manage to take the overall prize."